Incidents & Claims, Safety

How to Influence Your Clients Toward a Safer Workplace

David Fontain

Most companies want to maintain a safe environment, but many have trouble seeing beyond their existing practices — even when those practices fail to produce a meaningful reduction in losses.

As an independent agent, you can play a pivotal role in influencing your clients toward a safe and healthy workplace. 

You have a unique, data-driven perspective on risk and how it relates to incidents and loss.

Here’s how you can use your knowledge to reduce the likelihood that your clients will experience one of the four million workplace injuries each year.

Understand Safety Looks Different for Every Business 

Safety varies for each type of business and client. For those that have 8-10 employees, safety is important, but not managed on a large scale. They want to keep premiums lower and their employees healthy. It’s easier to keep an eye on things when there are fewer employees. 

As a business grows, the safety challenge becomes more daunting. In companies with 25-50 employees (typically $50,000-$250,000 in premium), it’s more difficult to maintain a culture of safety. Organizations of this size make safety a higher priority. As more employees are onboarded, the chance an accident will occur increases. 

For the largest clients, those with 300-400 employees (policies in the millions of dollars), safety is truly a full-time job. Most will employ a risk or safety manager. 

When you work with these clients, it’s essential to understand how they view safety. 

The price tag for workplace injuries is incredibly high. The 2020 Liberty Mutual Workplace Safety Index, cites overexertion injuries as the leading workplace injury cost at $13.98 billion annually. In totality, the top 10 workplace injuries cost $59.59 billion. 

Prevent Accidents Before They Happen 

Many businesses will experience some type of workplace injury or accident. A significant portion can be prevented with the right safety plan. This hinges around creating a culture where all levels of employees are bought into maintaining a safe operation. 

Oftentimes, clients may not know the best way to implement a safety management plan. 

This is where you come in. 

You are the expert when it comes to workers’ compensation coverage. But you can also play a pivotal role by influencing your client to be safer. Let’s look at each type of client and see how you can make a strategic impact on their safety. 

Minimize the Impact of Injuries 

Your smaller clients may not have all the same needs as larger customers, but safety is still an important factor in their business. The financial impact of workplace injuries can be even more devastating. 

Look through their loss history reports and analyze them for trends. Even in a small organization, there may be a problem area that is leading to an increase in claims. Educate your client on the need to address these issues. For example, you might recommend safety meetings and provide resources such as the National Safety Council’s training materials

Reduce Premium Costs in SMBs

For your medium-sized clients, consider a more hands-on approach. These customers are typically seeing premiums that may reach the $250,000 level. This is significant and is a focus area for these businesses. As a result, their safety programs are much more robust. 

Carefully review their loss ratios and history. Schedule monthly calls with them to discuss any issues that arise and make recommendations. Introducing them to an insurance company that offers risk management as a part of their coverage may help mitigate future issues and keep their premiums low. 

They may need to implement a safety management committee. These employees need to represent various areas of the organization. It’s important to ensure the culture of safety is perpetuated throughout the business and have clear goals and action items to achieve. 

Get Familiar with Safety in Large Organizations 

Your biggest clients need a well developed and executed plan to maintain a strong safety culture. They may have hundreds of employees and policies with well over $250,000 in premium. At this level, a company will have its own risk and safety manager or team of safety personnel. 

For large companies, it is important to ask risk leaders where they are experiencing gaps in safety programming, monitoring, and processes. Then, work with them to build better safety resources and tighten up their protocols. 

Make a Plan

Regardless of the business, a proactive safety plan will always be more beneficial than a reactive approach. Leading indicators like near misses can let you see the personnel most susceptible to incidents. A consistent pattern of near-misses demonstrates the need to change the work process in a particular area. 

Encourage your clients to develop good relationships with their employees in regards to safety. They should not be afraid to report accidents or potential hazards. From top to bottom there needs to be a culture that actively looks for unsafe conditions and reports problems immediately. 

Incorporate Technology

Implement safety management technology. By using safety apps, clients can report incidents in real-time and maintain control over their safety. This allows them to avoid the potential lag time, avoiding unnecessary costs from filing claims late. 

By working with an MGU like Foresight, the technology is included with the policy. Using these features will not only benefit the client in terms of processing but can also lower their costs by being safer. 

Provide Strategic Support

Your client may only regard you as their insurance advisor. In reality, you have the opportunity to be so much more. Your expertise in understanding loss reports and tracking claims data can make you an invaluable asset. 

When trying to establish more influence on your clients’ safety program, first illustrate how you can lower their premiums and reduce the number of injuries. Then, review their safety program, goals, and gaps, taking company size into consideration. Finally, continue to follow up on issues identified during your initial evaluation.

With your strategic support, companies can realize their safety goals and save money. With those savings, they can re-invest in their company and employees. By creating this relationship with each client, you become that trusted partner who provides tremendous added value. 

Demonstrate the Benefits of Good Safety Practices 

The value of safety management is in the numbers. There are clear, and demonstrable, cost savings associated with maintaining a safe work environment. 

If your client is having a difficult time understanding the price of workplace injuries, sit down with them, and use the OSHA Safety Pays Program. It’s interactive and allows you to choose the type of injury most common to your customer’s workplace. Your client can put their eyes on the direct, indirect, and total costs associated with a specific injury. 

Use this opportunity to discuss how improving their safety management will reduce those expenses. 

Share Successes 

Find and highlight stories of safety in the workplace. When your client sees how others have found success, it can give them encouragement to do the same. 

You can find great examples on OSHA’s website. Use these to motivate your client and find ideas they can implement in their safety program. 

Be a Goal Setter (and a Gap Hunter) 

You may be picking up on the fact that getting more engaged with your client will require you to wear many hats. 

And it will. Your clients need you to do that. They’re not always going to be thinking of how to improve their safety model, or what gaps exist in each department. 

But you can. 

Review their safety plan and ask them what their goals are. What do they want to achieve with this strategy? Talk with their managers and find out what gaps currently exist. Look for areas that are most susceptible to safety issues.

Agents Influence Safety in Important Ways

Now the door is open to sit down with your client, show them the potential costs if the gaps are not addressed, and develop a plan to eliminate these problems. 

When you can show positive results on paper, you can begin to change behavior. The best part is that the benefits affect so many areas of the business. Employers are more productive in a safe environment. Reduction in injury costs allows the savings to be reinvested. 

There’s one thing you shouldn’t forget to do: celebrate success. When your client sees a reduction in injuries or makes a big improvement to their safety program, congratulate them. 

Time spent working on your clients’ safety program can improve their workplace in significant ways while building your reputation as a problem solver and advisor. 

David Fontain

Author: David Fontain

Armed with the belief that workers compensation is ripe for innovation, David built Foresight Commercial Insurance to incentivize safety and lower premiums through the use of technology. As CEO, David leverages his experience in investment banking, fintech, commercial insurance, and workplace safety to develop insurance products that reward safety-minded companies and their value-adding brokerages.

When he’s not leading the nationally distributed team at Foresight, David is traveling, surfing, or reading and writing about workers comp.